This transcript of a debate on whether to ban college football (PDF), with Buzz Bissinger and Malcolm Gladwell arguing for the ban, Tim Green and Jason Whitlock arguing against, is a good read, not least for a few humorous zingers from Bissinger. John Donavan is the moderator.
Football, whether we like it or not, whether you understand it or not when I say it, but football is America. It is the melting pot. College football is the highest level of the melting pot. Football is the Statue of Liberty.
College football. Your huddled masses, your poor, your tired, people yearning to breath free. I was one of those kids. Football was my access into the mainstream and a better life. My dad didn’t graduate from high school, my mother was a factory worker. I was the first person in my family to go off to college. Football brings the poor and the rich, the black and the white, the Jews and the gentiles -- it brings everybody together, particularly at the college level.
It's about money now? They have to get hit over the head because they can't get money otherwise?
John Donvan: [unintelligible].
In terms of funding all the other sports you're talking about that you like. Yes, they do have to get hit over the head on Saturdays to pay for that, absolutely.
But Jason, Jason, you're --
To pay for the rowing team and the soccer team and all the other sports that no one cares about. Yes.
John Donvan: Buzz Bissinger.
Your argument is a perfect argument for why football should not be at academic institutions. Make it into a minor league system then. You'll get the same benefits that you're talking about. The melting pot -- by the way, the melting pot also, I think, includes Latinos and Asian-Americans. And if you can name four Jews who played football, you win the debate.
And later on:
Name the last time someone shot themself in the chest because of cell phone use?
Malcolm, you're taking --
Malcolm Gladwell: No, no.
No, you're doing -- you're taking -- you're taking, as Jason said, at aberration. You're --
I did because I use AT&T.
The audience was asked to vote on the issue before the debate, and then again after the debate, and they changed their mind from one side to the other. Read the transcript or listen to the audio to find out which way they swung.